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‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ Was Better With Backseat Gamers

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ Was Better With Backseat Gamers

I'm on Cloud 9.

One thing I think a lot of older gamers fail to realise is that their supposed legendary gaming experiences, no matter how good they were before, rarely transfer over to today’s younger players. There are times when people recall how good arcades are - or, rather, were, for the most part - to me, when I have very little reference for that; or perhaps they’ll talk fondly of the Nintendo GameCube, when I’ve only seen one in the flesh once or twice. Though I appreciate how amazing games felt to others, when they were younger, I wasn’t even born when some of this was happening. And nowhere does this disconnect between a classic game and my contemporary indifference to it apply better than Final Fantasy VII

The original Final Fantasy VII came out on 31 January 1997, about nine months before I was born. The game went on to become legendary, iconic in many ways, but as someone who didn’t even know anything about Final Fantasy until my teenage years, I didn’t pay it much interest at all. That was until Final Fantasy VII Remake came out in 2020 (our review, here) and there was once again a flurry of activity around the game, its story, and how Remake changed bits and pieces for a modern audience. And with no first-hand knowledge of the original or its legacy, I went into Final Fantasy VII Remake on stream with an audience that was determined to let me have the best time possible.

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I began playing Final Fantasy VII Remake following its 2021 new-gen update for PlayStation 5, and a few things stood out to me immediately. One: oh my god, everyone is hot, why is everyone a model and where can I find their workout routines? Two: this thing is shockingly pretty, how are games allowed to look this good? And three: some of this makes me want to cringe out of my skin and into the sewer with how sentimental and cheesy the story is. I was soon to learn that these are the pillars of the Final Fantasy brand, and though I spent most of my playthrough laughing at it, it was also one of my best gaming experiences of the year. 

See, I hadn’t played the original, nor had I played the remake when going into streaming the game. I had a set of moderators ready to ban anyone who tried to give me even the smallest hint as to the plot or fates of the characters. And unbeknownst to me, there was also an unwritten rule within my chat to encourage my conclusions and let me go on my own emotional journey through the game. 

Honestly, streaming’s biggest no-no is backseat gaming. There is someone live, right in front of you, trying to get through a level, area, or boss fight the best that they can. Telling them they’re doing it wrong is often a one way ticket to ban-town; and though I was left to my own devices, I also occasionally got steered towards the ‘right’ direction. For example, toward the end of Remake, my viewers were adamant that I should go through one specific door. They would not tell me why or what choice this affected, it was just important I go through this door. 

After I was through, they then got to enjoy my swearing and frowning as I had to spend 10 to 15 real-time minutes climbing an in-game staircase. I got to hear the heroic trio of Barret, Tifa, and Cloud all moan about how difficult it was getting to the top of the Shinra Building, while controlling Cloud who steadily got slower and slower, finally trudging up the steps like it was the hardest boss in the game. My chat laughed, and they mocked me for trusting them. It was hilarious, and a far better time than going up the elevator that was behind the other door. 

My experience with Final Fantasy VII Remake was full of these moments. Chat directing me to things I wouldn’t have seen, giving me just enough lore here and there so I understood the significance of the changes Square Enix made. My viewers got to hear my cries of outrage as characters perished, my confusion as all was not as it seemed, and my excitement when a massive cat-dog thing spoke to my shock. 

I also got to impress them. Several boss battles were won out of my stubborn gameplay tactics rather than ever learning how to do things efficiently. That Reno fight in the church? I got that first try just because I cheesed tiny amounts of damage rather than learning how to defeat him using the skills the game intended. I made my way through Final Fantasy VII Remake in a manner unexpected, yet guided.

Final Fantasy 7 //
Square Enix

Though I am still the first to say I hate backseat gaming, in this case, this one case, it was the best way to play. I’m excited to see how Square Enix progresses with future chapters of Remake, and I will once again go in without a clue of how it all fits together. 

P.S. Yes, don’t worry, I know that moment happens in the original. You can’t spoil that bit for me, readers. 

Featured Image Credit: Square Enix

Topics: Final Fantasy 7